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Showing posts from 2011

Miles To Little Ridge

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My exposure to Westerns was mainly limited to films and television until Edward A. Grainger. His stories changed my perceptions of what the genre had to offer.  Fueled by superb writing, the continuing adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles provide the same excitement of the films I’ve enjoyed while confronting all those big things about existence the literary types like to claim as theirs and theirs alone.

I was nervous when I heard other authors were going to be writing tales featuring Grainger’s two heroes. Would it feel...right? Could they pull it off? Would these new stories have the same mix of action and humanity?

Heath Lowrance’s does.

With clear and direct prose, he tells the story of Gideon Miles’ arrival in the town of Little Ridge, Montana where the Marshal tracks down a fugitive who’s raising his daughter on his own following his wife’s death. Despite his claims of innocence, the wanted man is reluctant to leave his fate up to a jury and his daughter in someone else’s c…

The Best Black American Novelist Writing Today by Shane Stevens

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Curious Shane Stevens fans looking for some of his non-fiction to read might check out The Critical Response to Chester Himes. Included in Charles L. P. Silet's compilation of reviews and essays is a Stevens piece called: "The Best Black America Novelist Writing Today."

Originally published in The Washington Post and Times Herald in 1969, Stevens' essay offers more than just a review of Blind Man With A Pistol. In only a few short pages, Shane uses the publication of Blind Man to discuss the importance of Himes' entire body of work, its relation to the American dilemna of race and his own opinions on the "moral" responsibilities of the novelist. If nothing else, Stevens fans may enjoy the tiny bit of personal reminiscence when Shane recalls living in Harlem, working on his own first novel and discovering the work of Chester Himes.

Regrettably, The Critical Response to Chester Himes is over priced. Amazon's new copy is currently available for $110. H…

A Rip Through Time Review

A couple of days ago, I learned from David that James Reasoner reviewed the Rip Through Time e-book on his Rough Edges blog. Despite my cool and detached demeanor, it's always nice to see pleasant things about your work. Especially when they come from a talented and seasoned veteran like James.

Read his thoughts here.


Claudia Sensi Contugi's The Climb

One of Christopher Pimental's students has her first published story up now at The Flash Fiction Offensive. You should really go check it out. Claudia Sensi Contugi's The Climb is impressive for such a young writer: great dialogue, nice crisp lines, tension and desperation that rises as the character makes a literal ascent, all building to a sharp ending.

My Shane Stevens Materials

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My Shane Stevens materials: books, articles, letters, reviews, and photographs. Below Black Review #1 is the current draft.

Editing

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In case you needed another reason to order the e-book:

I'm currently editing Simon Rip's next adventure. (Hopefully, this will be my final one before sending it David.)


Grift Magazine Reviews First Shift

Over at Grift Magazine, John reviews Crime Factory: The First Shift. Incredibly stoked to have garnered a mention for my story, The Method.

A Rip Through Time E-Book

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A Rip Through Time E-Book is now available from Smashwords:
Description: Dr. Robert Berlin has created The Baryon Core, a powerful device with the ability to predict the future and retrodict the past by tracking the position and vector of every particle in the universe. Berlin swipes his own creation from The Company and disappears into history. The Company's time-cop Simon Rip and the sexy, brilliant Dr. Serena Ludwig join together to track Berlin and return the device. Their pursuit will take them back to the ice age and forward to the end of time. 
A Rip through Time follows the time-cop's travels in a series of five short stories written by several of today's top pulp writers. Chris F. Holm opens the collection with the fast-paced "The Dame, the Doctor and the Device." Charles A. Gramlich's "Battles, Broadswords, and Bad Girls" and Garnett Elliott's "Chaos in the Stream" breath new life into the time travel story. Bringing the sag…

Smooth Criminals

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At his Dead End Follies site, Benoit Lelievre recently posted the details of his Smooth Criminals challenge. It’s pretty simple really: you have a year to read a book within eight categories and write a review of it.
I haven’t been reading as much as I would like recently. Between my own writing, the day job’s stress, and Maria’s health issues, I just haven’t had much time. When I do have time, my patience for reading material is very small: if the book doesn’t grab me in some way by X number of pages then I move on. I’ve put down more books over the last several months than I can count. Hopefully, the challenge will spur me onward toward finishing something.

My choices (so far) are:

Hardboiled Classic:
I, The Jury--I know Thomas Pluck is reading this too. Great minds think alike, I guess. Honestly, mostly, it’s because I tried reading Spillane years ago and hated it. I know that’s a statement that will probably get me beat and I’m sure Max Allan Collins is probably now plotting my death…

Zombie Plague

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Ten years ago, my friends Brian Roe and Skott Kilander created a free print-n-play game called Zombie Plague. People still download it and people still play it. It's gotten a lot of positive feedback in a decade and even been translated into multiple languages.

Yesterday on Facebook, Brian revealed the next step for Zombie Plague with a link to a Kickstarter page for a project "to create a forty-five page Zombie Plague comic that will also include revamped game rules."

For full details, and to pledge, go here.

A Rip Through Time: Things To Come

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A Rip Through Time will soon be available in e-book format. Besides featuring the original serial, the collection will also include two unpublished extras: an essay by Ron Scheer on time travel in books and film, and a brand new story by me.

The Last Painting of Hawley Exton is a look into the world of Simon Rip through a very different window. When an unnamed narrator finds himself near the village of Blackledge, he dares venture onward to the shadows of Henthorn Forest and the home of Hawley Exton. Hoping to see an infamous painting commissioned by Lord Byron, he has no idea the horrors awaiting him among the rotting timbers of Quaritch Hall or the terrible burden he will be forced to bear.

This first collection will easily be a bargain at 99 cents.

A bargain and a hint of things to come...



Shane Stevens & Gil Cates

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"The News of the Screen" column in the February 24, 1974, issue of The New York Times discusses Shane Stevens' involvement in the film adaptation of The Me Nobody Knows and reveals another doomed Hollywood project.

Gil Cates was scheduled to direct Stevens' screenplay of the socially conscious musical. Cates was the well-known director of films like I Never Sang For My Father and Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams. Now, he's probably best known as the producer of the Academy Awards shows, former Dean of the UCLA Film School, and the uncle of Phoebe Cates.

In the column, Cates talks briefly about Me and then mentions his next scheduled project — a film version of Way Uptown In Another World adapted by Shane.

Neither of the duo's projects went anywhere.

In early September, I e-mailed Cates at The Geffen Playhouse where he served as Producing Director. I introduced myself, explained my research and asked if he remembered anything about Shane Stevens.

I received a resp…

Darkling In The Eternal Space

For over a year Beat To A Pulp has been tantalizing us with chapters from Simon Rip's adventures. This sci-fi serial has everything you could want: a dashing hero, a brilliant scientist, a beautiful woman, travels across time and space, monsters, and some fantastic action-packed writing by Chris F. Holm, Charles Gramlich, and Garnett Elliott.

David Cranmer asked me to contribute the 4th installment. I have to admit that I was a little intimidated stepping into this playground. The writers that came before are some fantastic creators; they're the guys whose work I always try to catch no matter where they're appearing. But I wanted to give it a shot. This sort of fiction was my first love and something I don't get the opportunity to write very much. Plus, anytime you get a chance to work with David on a project, you'd be a fool to refuse. He's a first-class writer, a brilliant editor, and an honorable man. That's a rare combination, not only in this "bu…

Musings on First Shift

Over at her excellent site, Musings Of An All Purpose Monkey, Elizabeth White talks Crime Factory: The First Shift. Stoked to have made her highlights--especially considering everyone else who graces the pages of Crime Factory's first collection.


Arkham City

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After playing the first game together, the wife and I were excited to play Batman: Arkham City. She was especially stoked for the sequel since Catwoman is a playable character. So as soon as we could, we pre-ordered it from Game Stop, and I picked it up on my way home from work the day it was released. In a lot of ways, it’s almost a fantastic game. Almost, even though it’s gorgeous. The city is beautifully rendered. You could easily spend hours just wandering around and looking at the environment. Sometimes to your detriment. You’ll find yourself getting lost a lot at the beginning of the story, until you learn the landmarks and how to maneuver around the crowded, gothic skyline. Almost, even though Kevin Conroy returns as Batman and Mark Hamill reprises his role as Joker. Virtually every character from the Batman universe shows up at least once. All are well-acted. The voice-over work is excellent, easily up there as the best I’ve ever heard. Almost, even though the plot is engaging. I…

Dispatches from Mu

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Mu is a mythical continent that began as vaguely convincing pseudo-science and morphed into full blown silliness. Depending on how nutty you like your peanut butter, Mu was: the source of Mayan civilization, a colony founded by survivors of Atlantis, home of the Secret Masters, or under control of fascist lizard people who still direct the New World Order and psychically eat your brain.
Mu exists in multi-genre dimensions, rising from the waves as fantasy, science fiction, and ancient occult gobbledygook. The dead civilization ghosts through comics, short stories, novels, cartoons, anime, and music. Even Led Zepplin conjures the mystical spirit of Mu—Robert Plant’s feather symbol is supposedly one of the "sacred glyphs."


Mu is here.

I don't just read crime fiction. I certainly don't just watch cop shows or heist films. I couldn't image resigning myself to one particular genre for my entertainment any more than I could imagine listening to a single style of music. Mo…

The Letter

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Patti Abbott sponsored a flash fiction challenge based on the paintings of Reginald Marsh. Every story written earns $5 for charity. For complete details of the challenge go here. For a list of entries go here. For mine, keep reading.
The Letter




The fighting wasn’t done but they sent home three and a half weeks ago with a ruined leg. He’s spent the last two on the boardwalk with the letter that arrived the day the machinegun nest cut his squad to chunks of meat in some city he can’t even pronounce. Just sitting there with her letter in his front pocket and his gun in his back, watching the children and the girls and the women and men to old to fight walk by. Watching and waiting for her. Sometimes wishing his head would stop hurting, but mostly waiting and wondering if her hair was still dark or if she had finally turned blonde.

She had talked about it before he shipped out. She was in love with the actress. The one everyone seemed to like but him. Her friend, Whats-her-name, thought the…

All The Pissing

I'm finally setting down to read George R.R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in his seven part (please, let it only be seven) A Song of Ice and Fire series.

I write mostly crime fiction, but fantasy was my first love. As a kid I devoured fantasy novels, reading the good stuff (Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock) and the shit (the Dragonlance series and R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden books). I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. I made maps of make-believe worlds and played amateur linguist.

I grew out of fantasy. Discovering Andrew Vachss and Shane Stevens helped, but it was also because as I matured I realized that 99% of the fantasy genre is utter and complete shit. Just badly-written Tokien rehash after rehash. Very little of it is imaginative. And there's a subtext to "high fantasy" that I find repellant, much like the vast majority of "military SF". Whenever I thought I had found a new savior for the genre, they always disap…

The Cool Dead

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Back in September, I mentioned Warren Miller's 1959 novel, The Cool World. It's long out of print, but my university library dug their 1st Edition copy from the vaults. I got it a couple weeks ago and it's a surprisingly beautiful copy: light-blue hardback, title written in hep-cool-kat font, spine's sharp and switchblade straight.

Been considering writing an essay connecting Miller's The Cool World with Shane Steven's Go Down Dead. Both novels share a similiar premise and structure. Both novels are written by white authors about the "black experience" in Harlem. But more importantly to me, each book is social commentary hidden in crime fiction's bloody clothing.


 Nearly finished with Cool and it hasn't disappointed. It's an engaging book with excellent pacing. Miller manages to switch between plot-chapter and memory-chapter without bogging the narrative. He's an excellent prose stylist. Writing Cool from the point of view of a you…

Especially From Me.

I've been quiet lately.

It's due to a lot of things: work has been one stressful thing after another, issues with Maria's sighted eye continue, and a few short days ago it was my birthday. I try not to do anything on my birthday.

One of the biggest reasons for going dark and the radio silence is I've been working on finishing up a project. (No, it's not the Shane Stevens book--though I have made a find recently that, assuming all the pieces fall into line, should prove to be quite the spotlight on our secretive author.) I haven't discussed the project yet and I'm still not quite ready for it. I want to get just a little bit closer to completion before the big reveal.

I will say, it's something you probably didn't see coming.

Especially from me.


My Dark Pages

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Over at Dead End Follies, you can check out My Dark Pages where I talk about discovering Andrew Vachss and Shane Stevens.

Big thanks to Benoit for having me.











September Updates

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The first issue of Pulp Modern is now available. I've very excited about this. Everything I've seen Alec Cizak attach his name to has been nothing less than stunning. Plus, my friend Brian Roe contributed the interior artwork.

Waste no time and ORDER NOW!







_______________ Patti Abbott is hosting another flash fiction challenge. For details and to throw your hat in the ring, head over to her blog. If you've never participated in one of her challenges or even just taken the time to read the entries, you're missing out. Her prompts and challenges have coaxed some of the best fiction I've ever read online from a such a disparate group of writers. If that's not enough to convince you, for every entry Patti will donate $5 to  Union Settlement _______________

Preparing

It's early here. I'm drinking coffee and going over my notes for my phone conversation with Barnaby Conrad. Hopefully, he remembers Shane Stevens and can shine some more insight on the most secretive man in crime fiction.

I'm not holding my breath, however.

Sometimes, inspite of everything I've found, I feel like I'm on a fool's quest.

Shane Stevens' The Warriors...?

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I'm still working on my Shane Stevens piece...though I guess I should call it a book now. I dug up some more letters and found a couple more people who actually knew him. Also happened to come across a few interesting tidbits about things he wrote that never went anywhere. One of them, I thought I would actually share:

It appears that long before the project went to Walter Hill, Shane Stevens was hired to adapt Sol Yurick's The Warriors into a screenplay. Yurick's novel was written in 1965. Hill's film version was released in 1979. But Hollywood was trying to make a film version as far back as 1969.

From The Movie Call Sheet column of The Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1969:



American International has signed Shane Stevens to work on the screenplay of "The Warriors," based on the book by Sol Yurick. Robert Fresco and Denis Sanders will produce with Sanders scheduled to direct.

How different would the movie have been with a screenplay by Shane Stevens and direct…

Warren Miller's The Cool World

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I've been reading a number of historical pieces of criticism on white authors who wrote about "black" characters and the "black experience." Warren Miller's name appears frequently, usually mentioned in the same line as Shane Stevens.

I'm unfamiliar with Miller's name or his work. Google has turned up little and his Wikipedia entry, like Stevens', is fascinating in its brevity:

Warren Miller (1921–1966) was an American writer. Although he gained some notoriety for his books dealing with issues of race, as in The Cool World and The Siege of Harlem, and for his more political books such as Looking for The General and Flush Times, because of his early death due to lung cancer and his outspoken political views he has remained relatively unknown.

From what I can tell, everything of Miller's is out of print. I've put in requests at our university library and they're pulling 1st edition copies of The Cool World and The Siege of Harlem for …

Crime Factory: The First Shift Available For Pre-Order

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I'm in a print anthology with a lot of other badass writers. It's official release isn't until later this month, but Crime Factory: The First Shift is available for pre-order from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Neither of the entries includes a list of contributors yet, but I can assure you that you won't be disappointed.
Order From Amazon
Order From Barnes & Noble
I'm not going to bash Amazon, because I order things from there, but if you're feeling really motivated and want to be helpful you could even go into your local bookstore and order a copy. It's far more beneficial than you can imagine. Or you could go to your local library's webpage and fill out an order request.


Whatever you decide to do, I hope you check it out.

Closed on Account of the Plague

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Probably won't hear much from me anywhere this week. This is the start of classes at the university and, typically, one of our busiest times of year. To complicate things even more, I currently have what I'm hoping is just a summer cold.

I usually don't get sick. I really don't. Despite presisting with smoking cigarettes, I stay in decent health and keep in good shape. The problem is: when I do get sick, it knocks me on my ass.

I'm hoping to kick this thing before the weekend, but, either way, don't think I'm going to be communicating very much the rest of the week. There are a couple of people that I owe e-mails. I haven't forgotten you, honestly.

Fright Night

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Last Saturday, we went to see Fright Night.

Normally I try to avoid remakes, especially if I like the original but the trailer sold me on giving this one a chance. The new version actually looked promising, like an interesting remake that didn’t seem hell-bent on murdering another pleasant memory from my youth.

Okay, well, that’s not entirely true. It was the trailer…and David Tennant. I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. Tennant is easily my favorite Doctor of the current run. Besides being my favorite Doctor, he’s one of Maria’s biggest crushes. So it was win-win.

I was surprised how much the new film retains the premise of the original. Briefly:

Charley Brewster, a high school kid, watches his neighbor out the window. Brewster learns the neighbor is a vampire responsible for a recent rash of disappearances. No one believes Brewster so he tries to enlist the aid of someone he thinks knows about vampires and can help his battle against the undead. Complications ensue when the vampire catches o…

Shane Stevens Update

Work continues on my Shane Stevens biographical investigation. It's currently at 40+ k and includes twenty photographs. I've recently come across some new sources of information that I've been looking into. I know a few people, some fellow Shane Stevens fans, are a little frustrated by the delay. I can, however, assure you no one wants to see this finished and circulating more than I do.

Shane wrapped himself in a lot of shadows and I'm still learning to see in the dark.

Riddick

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A transport ship crashes on a distant planet after being struck by debris from a comet’s tail. Most of the people onboard die. Only one crewman survives, a woman named Carolyn Fry who panics during the landing and almost kills everyone. A few passengers crawl out of the wreckage: a runaway, a holy man and his charges, an antiquities dealer, and two settlers.

Then there’s the bounty hunter. A man named Johns, a merc with a drug habit he feeds by shooting spikes of morphine into his eyeballs.

Most of the cargo is destroyed. However, the most important cargo? The most valuable and dangerous piece is missing.

Riddick.

Riddick is Johns’ prisoner. He’s an escaped convict, a murderer with a large bounty on his head. Johns tells the survivors that Riddick is a human predator who can see in the dark and he’s capable of anything. Like skull-fucking you in your sleep.

Luckily, Johns recaptures Riddick before anyone needs a nap.

While Johns is tracking Riddick, the others survey the ship and re…